Monday, March 30, 2009

Lights Out, Peace In

This past Saturday, March 28, my husband, son and I participated in Earth Hour. For the time between 8:30 and 9:30 pm local time, we turned off our computers, lights, and televisions as part of a global vote to support our beautiful planet and to send a message to the powers that be that we must do something to stem the tide of climate change. Participation has grown since the event's 2007 beginnings in Sydney, Australia, from 2.2 million homes, to 50 million in 2008, with a 2009 goal of 1 billion people voicing their concern by switching off the power. For more about Earth Hour and some great photographs from that night around the world, visit

Though some may say that turning off the lights for one hour is merely a drop in the energy usage bucket and is purely symbolic, we would argue that the experience was deeper, for it reminded us of the peace - both physical and emotional, that is missing in our daily lives; peace and quiet that is crowded out by the constant drone of machines, the hum of computers, the noise of radios and televisions, and the glare of artificial lights that keep us awake much longer than our bodies can handle. It's been noted that people slept an average of 10 hours before the widespread usage of electric lights. Now we are reduced to about 6 or 7 hours of rest, which is far less than we need to stay healthy.

So what did we do during that one hour of darkness on Saturday evening? Well my son freely elected to turn off his computer (which is on almost constantly!) and read by flashlight in his room. My husband and I sat on the family room couch, snugly under a handmade blanket, a candle's warm glow lighting the room, homemade brownies on the coffee table, and we talked. We also listened. We listened to the lack of sound. We relished the quiet and we felt the peace of technology's absence. We felt the natural, sleepy rhythm of the night as it was long ago. In fact, we lingered this way beyond the one hour, enjoying the respite from our usual routine.

We wish we could say that the rest of the neighborhood joined in the event, but, alas, house lights across the street still blazed and dampened the full effect of the evening. But even if you or our neighbors missed Earth Hour, there is still time to give it a whirl. We'd encourage everyone to turn off all the lights and machines at least one night (maybe even once a month) to discover the pleasant effects of shutting off the modern world and tuning in to the natural one - and to save a little energy too.

Here are some suggestions for how to spend your own "Earth Hour" whenever you want to try it.

First, take a walk outside under the moon and stars. Breathe in the fresh night air. Listen to the sounds of nature in the darkness.

Then come inside and turn off the lights, and set the mood by lighting candles.

Votive Candle Holder
from Nonnie's Treasures

Fill a mug with your favorite warm beverage. (We'll let you boil some water for coffee, tea or cocoa but turn off the stove after that!)

Flowery Coffee Mug
Jill's Treasure Chest

Or perhaps share a little something special with your friend or partner. Break open that wine bottle that you have been saving for just the right occasion.

Hand Painted Wine Glasses
Glitz N Glass

You could surround your tub with pretty votive candles...

Cheery Flower T-Lite Holder
Crafty Bargain Basement

...and relax in a hot, lavender-scented bath.

Lavender Granola Bar Handmade Soap
by In a Lather

If you are by yourself, you might want to take this time for personal contemplation and meditation. Light some incense and let your cares drift away.

Raku Tree Incense Burner

After you have finished delving deep into your inner self, you might want to jot down a few of the inspirations that came to you. If you are a writer, now would be a good time to let your creativity flow onto paper.

Yellow Butterfly Wear-A-Notebook Necklace
Kara Lennox (Wear-A-Note)

Got a book that you've been itching to finish? Curl up in a comfy chair next to a bright candle and do some reading.

Silhouette Bookmark - Flower in the Meadow
by Word Walks

There's nothing like the gentle craft of knitting or crochet to calm the spirit after a busy day. Now is a good time to make something with that special yarn you bought and put in the closet for "when you have time."
Spin Del Skeins Hand Spun Yarns
The Knotty Sheep

Make your lights-out "Earth Hour" a family affair with board games, cards, or drawing and sketching. Adults, this is your chance to play with crayons again! Sing a song, play an instrument, and celebrate being together.

Sorry Clock
by Imotime

Card Night Quilted Fabric Post Card
Attack of the Vintage

Take-A-Long Art Book Folio for Kids
from Whimseys by SuZ

No matter when you decide to turn out the lights, or what you do during your electricity-free hour, you will reap the benefits of slowing down and enlightening your inner landscape with a break from the modern world. Your carbon footprint will shrink a little too.

The Earth will thank you for your time.

Gods Earth Original Print ACEO
by Beth Peardon Prods

Ideas for helping reduce your energy consumption:


On a Whimsey said...

Excellent post Liv, thank you! Indeed I remember when we lived in Ireland why out in the country you could step outside your door at night and gaze up into the sky, just about touching the glittering sequins that twinkled back. Also, the wonderful sound of silence with only the odd bleating of newborn lambs or the muffled chewing of the cud from the cows in the field next door. We have lost so much in our modern day lives, it is important to step back and listen.

Unknown said...

Thank you Liv for a wonderful blog. We all need to
be reminded of the need for conservation and the
need for peace in our lives and in the world.
I love how you integrated the work of our members
with your thoughts. Thanks for including my
collage. I always look forward to reading the blogs
during the week.

Zuda Gay Pease said...

Wonderful post, Liv!! Thank you!!

Beth said...

Great feature Liv, we all need to be reminded of this. Thanks for including my aceo in this feature.

jstinson said...

Well Liv, you did it again! You paint such wonderful word pictures! Your blogging skills just can't Bbested! The features are all wonderful as well.

Mickey said...

Great post! I live so far out in the woods that when we turn all of the lights off and go outside the stars are right there. It's amazing. Thanks for writing this post.

Pamela Baker said...

Really great blog, so interesting. It was like taking a walk through nature's environment with you. Thank you for reminding us of all we can be doing to help save the environment. You couldn't have picked more perfect choices.

dianeclancy said...

Liv - this is a wonderful post!! I so enjoy all the different items you have picked out from others .. lovely selection.

I don't know HOW I missed the lights off this year .. but I did. Thank you for doing that!! Quiet is so lovely anyway!!

Thank you again for a great post!!

~ Diane Clancy

Chauncey said...

Liv, what a wonderful post, filled with beautiful choices of items from the bbest team. I really enjoyed it.

Unknown said...

fil, you know I love this feature and what an honor to have one of my eco items included. Thank you. I love your choices and here's our lights out tale...

We played Scrabble and drank tea by candlelight and played Name That Tune. Evan noticed, like you, that the neighbors seemed oblivious. All the more reason for us to do it more often. Scout loved it and wants to do it on a regular basis. We miss the darkness and privacy we had up in NH.

Oops...I'm on Scout's computer...turned mine off for the day to save energy and have some creative time! How timely. Thanks, fil!

~*~Pearl~*~ said...

awesome post Liv!! Thank you!!

Unknown said...

What a wonderful post, liv! Thank you so much!

Jill said...

What a great post. I enjoyed reading it.

Judy Nolan said...

This is a wonderful post, well written and very thoughtful. Hopefully more will be inspired to think about the impact of reducing our electric consumption! Thanks for including my bookmark, too.

Jean Levert Hood said...

lovely choices! I love that piece by Van! and, I have Simon and Garfunkle live in my CD player right now. Love it!

Pam said...

So enjoyed reading this post. May we all think more about how to care for this wonderful earth. And the art you chose is fabulous....wonderful talent frm the bbesters!